de Ware Tijd 11/8/2012
by Ewout Lamé
Paramaribo, Suriname – The Bergendal holiday resort intimidates its workers, labour confederation C-47 complains. The confederation successfully appealed dismissal of a tour guide who had been fired because of union activities. Bergendal denies all accusations.
Last Wednesday the Ministry of Labour denied the application for dismissal of Ivan Swedo, a tour guide with the resort and member of the C. Kersten & Co Workers union (CKCWB), which is affiliated to C-47. ‘The only reason why I have been fired is that I wanted to introduce the union,’ Swedo says. The holiday resort reacted by stating that every organization is free to apply for dismissal of a worker. ‘We will honour the decision by the Ministry of Labour,’ a spokesperson for the management said. The Bergendal resort, located in the district of Brokopondo, is part of the Kersten Group.
CKCWB was a hibernating union, which has been given new life to represent workers at the holiday resort. The union criticizes safety regulations in the resort. ‘We climb mountains with the guests, but the paths are slippery, so we need special hiking shoes. The management promised to purchase the shoes, but so far we have not seen any. We use our own shoewear. Gardeners risk disease because of the many rodents. There is not even an emergency kit,’ Swedo complains. A spokesperson for the resort counters all allegations, pointing out that the the entire staff is in uniform and that the organization abides by safety regulations.
The CKCWB criticizes the safety of he zip line across the Suriname River, but whenever a workers says anything about it the management takes action against them. Bergendal states that Swedo is no expert on the matter, so he cannot criticize the zip line.
The resort denies having taken action to discourage establishment of a union. ‘It is more than understandable that we would like to guarantee that our operations are not harmed. When the workers left their stations for a meeting, we ordered them back, but that was probably ill-received.’
The resort denies allegations that it refuses to meet with the union. ‘We have sent them a letter requesting additional information.’ The spokesperson could not say whether the management will invite the CKCWB soon.-.